The Hall of Fame’s membership grew by eight on August 7, 1972, as BBWAA selections Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra and Early Wynn were inducted. The Veterans Committee elected Lefty Gomez, Ross Youngs and former American League president Will Harridge and the Negro Leagues Committee picked Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson. Harridge, Gibson and Youngs were inducted posthumously. The J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing was accepted by Mrs. Frank Graham on behalf of her late husband, a former writer for the New York Sun and author of numerous baseball biographies.
YOGI BERRA: Elected by the BBWAA in his second year on the ballot, Berra was named on 85.6 percent of ballots cast. A three-time American League MVP, he played all but one of his 19 big league seasons with the New York Yankees, winning 14 league pennants and 10 World Series. Aside from winning three MVP Awards, Berra finished in the top four on four more occasions and was named to the All-Star team 15 years in a row (1948-1962). He hit .300 or better four times and drove in 100 plus runs five times in seven years. Berra played in 75 World Series games, in which he hit .274 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI. He retired a .285 career hitter with 358 home runs and 1,430 runs batted in, while throwing out 47 percent of would-be basestealers.
SANDY KOUFAX: Receiving 86.9 percent of the votes in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, Koufax played all 12 of his big league seasons for the Brooklyn-Los Angeles Dodgers. In a five year stretch from 1962-1966, Koufax led the league in ERA all five year and won 25 or more games three times on the way to three N.L. Cy Young Awards. In 1963 he won both the Cy Young and MVP Awards, after going 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA in 40 starts. Koufax threw 11 shutouts and struck out a league-high 306 hitters, while walking just 58 in 311 innings pitched. In 1965 he set a then record for strikeouts in a season with 382, a mark eclipsed by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Making seven starts spread out over four World Series in his postseason career, Koufax posted a 0.95 Fall Classic ERA as the Dodgers won three titles. He retired at age 30 with 165 wins and a 2.76 earned run average.
EARLY WYNN: Wynn was named on 76 percent of ballots cast when he was elected in his fourth year of eligibility. He played for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox in a career that spanned 23 seasons and featured seven All-Star selections. He led the league in innings pitched three teams and won 20 or more games five times. The 1939 Cy Young Award winner at age 39, Wynn went 22-10 with a 3.17 ERA, 14 complete games and 255.2 innings pitched. He retired with an even 300 wins and a 3.54 ERA.
JOSH GIBSON: Playing 17 seasons for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays, Gibson was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Negro Leagues Committee. Said to have hit over 800 home runs, he played much of his career in two of the game’s toughest parks to hit home runs: Forbes Field and Griffith Stadium. In bats that were recorded against major league pitching, Gibson hit .426 and was called by Bill Veeck, “at the minimum, two Yogi Berras.”
LEFTY GOMEZ: A Veterans Committee Selection who pitched all but one of his 14 seasons with the New York Yankees, Gomez helped the Bronx Bombers to seven American League pennants. He won the pitching Triple Crown twice, leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts in 1934 and 1937. A seven-time all-star, Gomez set a World Series record by winning six games without a loss and was also the winning pitcher in the first All-Star game in 1933. He retired after pitching one game for the Washington Senators in 1943, with 189 wins, a 3.34 ERA and 1,468 strikeouts.
WILL HARRIDGE: Will Harridge earned his start in baseball in 1911 when American League founder and President Ban Johnson hired the railway ticket clerk to work for him. Johnson's personal secretary from 1911-1927, he became American League secretary in 1927. Elected by the Veterans Committee, Harridge became league president in 1931 and held that post until his retirement in 1958. He was a modest human being who successfully promoted the league without personally seeking the spotlight.
BUCK LEONARD: A inductee of the Negro Leagues Committee, Leonard played 18 years for the Brooklyn Royal Giants and Homestead Grays. A smooth-fielding, sweet-swinging first baseman Leonard was the backbone of the Homestead Grays dynasty of the late 1930s and 1940s. Even-tempered, modest and loyal, the left-handed hitting Leonard was a model of consistency and one of the best pure hitters to play in the Negro leagues. He played in a record 11 East-West All-Star games, and his remarkable 17-year tenure with the Grays is the longest term of service with one team in Negro league history.
ROSS YOUNGS: In a ten-year career spent entirely with the New York Giants, Youngs hit over .300 eight times. Selected by the Veterans Committee, he led the league in outfield assists three times and was called by John McGraw “the greatest outfielder I ever saw.” Youngs’ Giants won back-to-back World Series in 1921 and 1922, topping the Yankees both times. He finished fifth in the 1924 NL MVP voting after hitting .356 with 10 home runs, 74 RBI and 112 runs scored. He retired in 1926 due to a rare kidney disorder with a .322 career average.